Defense leads volleyball to second straight win
Kelley Angel had 10 blocks and Natalie Newberry added 23 digs as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs volleyball team leaned on its defense to win its second straight match, 3-1 (30-19, 23-30, 30-27, 30-27) over the New Mexico Highlands Cowgirls Saturday evening at the Lions' Den.
The Mountain Lions had 14'½ blocks (two solo, 25 assisted) and held the hard-hitting Cowgirls to a .042 hitting percentage. The combination of strong net play and Newberry, Laura Meeter (12 digs) and Andrea Weedman (12 digs), all freshmen, patrolling the back line kept New Mexico Highlands' hitters frustrated.
"We're doing a good job with our recognition," said Newberry. "We're communicating - we're talking a lot out there."
With Friday's win over Adams State, which came into the match ranked No. 10 in the Southwest Region, the Mountain Lions are now 2-0 since Newberry took over at libero - the pivot around which the defense operates. While the credit for the wins belong to the entire team, Newberry's solid passing and defensive range have had a big impact.
"(Newberry) covered more area that we could ever expect a freshman to cover (Friday)," said CU-Colorado Springs coach Jessica Wood. "She's done a very good job."
Audra Williams led New Mexico Highlands (5-8, 3-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) with a match-high 15 kills, but was also forced into 12 hitting errors.
"Our block has been big," said Wood.
Weedman led CU-Colorado Springs (8-6, 3-3 RMAC) with 13 kills. Jill Wrenn added 12 and Caroline Ottino had 11.
Mountain Lions setter Lindsey Hillegass had 44 assists, but was even more valuable in identifying what the huge Highlands front line was going to do and setting the offense to avoid the block.
"Lindsay has been doing a great job for us," said Wood. "She's been seeing the court very well and recognizing what's happening on the other side of the net."
CU-Colorado Springs was able to overcome its own sloppiness in Game 1. The Mountain Lions were sluggish early, falling behind 8-3. They also helped New Mexico Highlands' cause by committing six service errors.
CU-Colorado Springs scored 17 of the next 23 points and cruised to a 30-19 win.
In Game two the teams had a role reversal. CU-Colorado Springs stormed to a 9-4 lead and led 15-12 when the Cowgirls reeled off eight straight points, including a pair of aces by Martha Montano. Highlands held on to win 30-23.
Having lost the momentum, CU-Colorado Springs called upon its defense in Game 3. The Mountain Lions block forced 13 Highlands hitting errors, leading to a miserable -.023 percentage. While the Mountain Lions weren't crisp, they hit well enough to win 30-27.
CU-Colorado Springs was crisp, however, in Game 4 apart from a four-point Highlands run that came entirely on CU-Colorado Springs hitting errors. With the Cowgirls leading 12-7, the Mountain Lions had only a single hitting error the rest of the way and finished the game with a .208 hitting percentage.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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